Format read: e-book
Series: The Seraphina: Sin City, #1
Release Date: 16 September 2013
Publisher: Courtney Milan
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Author’s Site, Kobo, Smashwords, iTunes
He’s dangerous, sexy, and everything she wants…
Sierra hit it off with Hayden from the moment they met. The dangerously sexy, tattooed ex-SEAL is one of the best friends she’s ever had—and the main star in her wildest fantasies. But he doesn’t see her that way. And she’d die of embarrassment if he found out she was still a virgin.
And he’s about to make his claim…
Hayden’s struggled to keep his attraction to the beautiful, dark haired casino chef a secret. He’s not good enough for her. But when an attacker targets Sierra, Hayden’s protective instincts go into overdrive. With the attraction between them burning out of control, he’ll do whatever it takes to protect her and convince her they’re meant to be together.
Man, oh man. Ladies and gents, just call me the Outlier, because I seem to be way in the minority with my thoughts on this book. Maybe it can be somewhat chalked up to unfortunate timing, varied expectation, or plain old difference in taste (though I really thought it’d be right up my alley)… In the end, this particular book just didn’t do it for me.
I’ll have to begin with the aspect that most immediately didn’t jive with me: the narrative style. It felt rather Spartan and clipped, the dialogue not quite natural or easily envisioned. Certain narrative devices were repeated just this side of “too often,” for my personal taste. (If I had a nickel for every instance of “It was a punch to the gut/stomach/senses/nerve endings”…) A bit more “telling” style over “showing,” (which isn’t inherently a bad thing, admittedly).
Now, I have to now admit that this was my first foray into the Katie Reus catalog. In that way, I came with a clean slate to this series; but that might not have been a good thing. Though this book is technically the first in a new series, its very much a spinoff that references characters and events that (presumably) appeared in earlier installments of the original Red Stone Security books. Certainly, that connection helped provide the exposition that the short book length otherwise limited. But that also meant that without that previous exposure and context, I felt like I’d arrived in class halfway through and couldn’t understand the lively discussion already going on. Thus, I’d imagine this tale might be well suited for someone who’s read the previous series and can get something more from the crossover references, as well as better appreciate the characters’ connections and behaviors.
So when the protagonist Sierra said something like, “She wasn’t sorry that [the antagonist] was killed; he was a monster”–not only could I not feel it for myself, I couldn’t comprehend the character’s feeling that way herself, as the basis for that amounted to the monstrous individual’s couple lines of dialogue and being shot a few moments later. As a result, Sierra’s action there just didn’t resonate with me. And the implied threat (along with the mysterious antagonist that drove it) was very much minimal.
The heat level shifts to high, to be sure. That’s the real draw to this book–da hotness! But the romance, the “I love you” payoff, didn’t make much of an impact on me because I didn’t really *feel* it as a reader. I tried to take the characters’ word for it, though, ^_^ and finished the story with a hearty “Well, good for them.”
Like I said, I’m sure I’ll be an outlier here. (And goodness knows it is seriously tough to write a novlette/novella!) Still looking forward to checking out some of Reus’s other work–it might just be that I read First Surrender before its time.
. . .
Verdict: With the rather particular, Spartan narrative style and frequent character shout outs, this story seems best fit for existing fans of Katie Reus; even better, existing fans of the Red Stone Security series. There is a definite unbridled hotness in the mix, as well, that will appeal to many.
I give First Surrender 2.5 stars!
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